Nigeria Health Watch urges advocates to inspire behaviour change in health sector

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Mrs Vivianne Ihekweazu, Managing Director, Nigeria Health Watch, has charged health advocates to inspire change in the way people think or behave to health issues in the country.

Ihekweazu made the call at a news conference on Saturday in Abuja.

She said that the change required touching people on an emotional level through certain ways including creative arts.

The Director revealed that the organisation had concluded plans to host its maiden edition of the ‘Health Meets Art Gala,’ themed: ‘Celebrating Womanhood’.

According to her, the event will recognise women in all their diversity, showcase their strengths and resilience, adding that it would also create a space for positive dialogue, to highlight the needs to accelerate towards greater equality in Nigeria.

Ihekweazu said that, “the goal of the Celebrating Womanhood Art Gala, is to create greater about maternal health issues beyond the health sector.

“The number of Nigerian women who lose their lives while giving life, remains of great concern and urgent solutions are needed to inspire positive change.”

She explained that the gala billed to hold on Friday Oct. 8, would be a hybrid event with the opportunity to share in the experience and view the art pieces online.

Ihekweazu said that the art gala was being organised with support of the National Gallery of Art and Female Artists Association of Nigeria (FEAAN), who have curated art pieces from selected female artists.

“The Celebrating Womanhood Art Gala seeks to bring together stakeholders from diverse sectors, to increase and provide a forum for discussion on how we can break down the structural barriers that prevent women and girls from attaining their full potentials.

“We critically want to highlight the inequities and obstacles women face when accessing healthcare.

“Nigeria’s maternal mortality rate continues to be a health concern. Data from the 2018 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) showed that maternal deaths in Nigeria account for 20% of global maternal deaths.

“The number of women who die while giving life in Nigeria, calls for immediate attention and collaboration by all stakeholders (including the private sector, agencies, Civil Society OArganisations, donors, and multinationals) in Nigeria’s health sector to improve current outcomes of women when they are giving birth,” she said.

Speaking further, Ihekweazu described art as a unique form of expression that could combine both text and imagery, noting that it had the ability to communicate ideas, share experiences and thoughts as well as stretch the imagination without relying solely on words.

“It is an outlet for human expression and a universal language that has the to unify. This approach can be an effective means of creating about maternal health issues.

“Furthermore, by creating of these issues and portraying women from their position of strength and often resilience, we hope to generate greater mobilisation of resources and engagement, to ensure that gender issues are mainstreamed,” she said.

Speaking on the Health Meets Art Gala partnership, Mr Chinze Ojobo, Fellow of African Art & Culture, said that they were excited to partner with Nigeria Health Watch on this epic event.

“FEAAN was established in 2001 and uses art to give voice to the voiceless, the vulnerable women and the endangered girl-child.

“Our advocacy as female artists, lie solely on social issues like gender- rights and equality, Gender Based Violence (GBV), maternal health issues and so on”.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the gala is being organised with the support of MSD for Mothers, through its global initiative to help create a world where no woman must die, while giving birth.

NAN also that Nigeria Health Watch is a health based NGO, which uses advocacy and communication to influence health policy, seeks better health and enhance access to quality healthcare services in the country.

It also seeks to amplify some of the great work happening in the health sector, challenges and create a space for positive ideas and actions.